Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993. 556 pp. Cloth, $27.50; paper, $14.00.
When asked by Southern Cultures to review this book on Coca-Cola, I was tempted to concentrate on the southern penchant for soft drinks. According to marketing experts, striking regional differences still exist in the consumption of drinks such as colas, imported beers, and “new age beverages” (bottled water). To no one’s surprise, southerners drink less imported beer and bottled water and more soft drinks than folks in other regions. They also invented an impressive number of major brands including Dr. Pepper (1885, Waco, Texas); Coca-Cola (Atlanta, 1886); Pepsi-Cola (New Bern, North Carolina, 1896); and RC Cola (Columbus, Georgia, 1902). The region’s long, hot summers and its lingering temperance tradition probably explain why soft drinks remain so popular. But neither the weather nor the temperance movement offers much help in understanding the origins of Coca-Cola.